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spacer.gif^ Livermore, CA | Paso Robles, CA | San Luis Obispo, CA | Santa Barbara, CA       >> Tasting Dispatches
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MARCH 2006
Our Favorite Trio: Golf, Wine & Food at Wente Vineyards

wentewinery2.jpgSince we got married in March and hate the cold, our options to celebrate our anniversary are somewhat slim. Being a compulsive planner, my husband always lets me choose the location. As long as he gets to golf and I get to drink wine, we are both happy. I recently picked up the game, so in an effort to get out there, I've been looking for places that have both, won't be too cold and aren't too far a drive for a long weekend. Even in California that's not an easy task. I'd been to the Livermore Valley a few years before to visit their burgeoning wine country and decided after getting a look at the Wente Vineyards Golf Course that I found a match made in heaven. Since I'm not a good golfer, at all, I at least need a pretty course to play on to keep my mood from spiraling out of control. How could I hold onto my anger and frustration with views of the vineyard and surrounding mountains?

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Well, it turns out the day went better than expected because I didn't actually play. Just rode along in the cart. It seems that the Nationwide tour was coming in the following week and the course was just playing too hard for a rank amateur like myself. In fact, when the starter asked how long I'd been playing and heard my response – about a year – he just laughed and told me to hold onto my money. Considering the Greens Fee was around $75, we appreciated his honesty. I had tried to play Poppy Hills the day before with horrifying results. I wound up in a local wine tasting room after the first 3 holes. Normally the Wente Course would have been out of my league, but with these conditions – the short rough was 6 inches high and the long rough would hide a small child – it would have been impossible. Dave, however, was undeterred. He was on vacation and going to give it a go. Plus, I just love driving the cart. It was a bit cold (low 50s) and threatening to rain, so we were the only people on the course. Except for the guy from Chicago, who was in shorts.

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Considering the wind and the course conditions, he didn't play too badly. We did lose more than a few balls to the rough. Once a ball got in there a bloodhound couldn't find it. After the round we meandered over to the tasting room. Wente is one of the oldest continuous wineries in California, having been around for 125 years. The whole property is first class and the wines go from everyday drinkers that you'll find in most grocery stores to single vineyard lots that can only be purchased at the winery. A little something for everyone. We really loved the Charles Wetmore Cabernet Sauvignon which is a steal for $25. The rest of the wines from their Chardonnay to their Zinfandel, were solidly crafted and enjoyable, especially for the price (around $15). The staff was fun, knowledgable and clearly loved working there.

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From there we made our way across the drive to their restaurant for the Sunset Supper, which they serve every Sunday from 4:30-5:30pm. Diners enjoy a two-course dinner for just $29 or a three course dinner for just $37 per person. Wine is available, but additional. After a long day on the course, it was just what we needed. Granted, it's a little early for most of our friends, but we're early risers so we were quite hungry by that point. The dining room is lovely, the service was spot-on and the food was wonderful.

All in all a perfect day.


TO LEARN MORE: Visit WenteVineyards.com

For ratings of the other wineries we visited, click here.

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